Female ballplayer throws batting practice, promotes Baseball for All.
Of all of the life lessons Justine Siegal can pass along to the many kids she’s impacted over the years, perseverance could very well be at the top of the list.
Sure, Siegal initially had no choice but to take no for answer when she first reached out to all 30 teams with a request to throw batting practice to Major League hitters during the next Spring Training. She sent emails, and she received no responses. Well, she did get one — “it was a beautiful email,” she said. “Telling me, politely, no.”
But Siegal was encouraged that at least someone did read it. So she pushed on. She reached out to people she knew who might have an “in” with general managers. She showed up at the Winter Meetings. She got some one-on-one face time with club execs.
“People started warming to it,” Siegal said.
First, Oakland A’s. Then her hometown Indians. The Rays, Cardinals, Astros and Mets soon followed. By those teams saying yes, Siegal, a 36-year-old former high school and amateur baseball player, became what is believed to be the first woman to throw batting practice to big league hitters.
Siegal threw a round of BP to Astros hitters on the backfields at Osceola County Stadium Saturday morning. The Astros were the fourth team she threw to, but it was “the first time I’ve done this where I haven’t felt nervous when I started,” she said.
The batting practice experience helped Siegal fulfill one lifelong goal, but ultimately, her main purpose is to bring awareness to her organization, Baseball For All, which provides girls and women the opportunity to get involved in baseball as players, coaches and umpires. Her web site, baseballforall.com, details many opportunities for girls to play in tournaments and participate in camps and academies.
“They don’t want to just watch and wear a pink jersey,” Siegal said. “They want to be a part of baseball.”
Siegal, who was the first woman to coach men’s professional when she coached for the Brockton Rox in 2009, has received a positive response from all of the teams she’s worked with this spring. The Rays “almost made it a home run derby,” she recalled. “It was a really light atmosphere, with Coco Crisp leading the way. They were having a good time with it. That’s what I wanted — for them to enjoy the experience.”
Siegal wears a patch, dedicated to the memory of Christina-Taylor Green, on her left sleeve. Green, who was killed during the shootings in Tucson in January, was the only girl on her Little League team and had aspirations to become the first female Major League Baseball player.
“When she was shot, a lot of parents reached out to me, wanting to know what BFA was going to do to help,” Siegal said. “I knew I wanted to do something. Then I heard about the patch.”
Asked how the Green family reacted to the attention the patch is receiving as she tours the different spring training facilities, Siegal said simply, “They gave me the best compliment possible — they said they’re very proud of me.”
Play was halted for about 15 minutes on Saturday after a female fan apparently was hit in the head by a foul ball. She was tended to by the on-site EMTs and taken away on a stretcher. There was no indication how severe the injury or the fan’s condition available. We will provide an update when we receive word.
On March 14 vs. PHI, the first 2,000 fans will receive Astros drawstring backpacks presented by Holiday Inn Main Gate East…Kid’s Run the Bases!, for children ages 5-12, will be featured twice this Spring on March 20 and 27 immediately following the game…the March 20 will feature $1 hot dogs and free Astros posters, presented by Florida Operation Lifesaver, while supplies last…Military Appreciation Day, presented by Outback Steakhouse, will be March 27, as well as free Astros posters presented by Florida Operation Lifesaver, while supplies last.
The Astros will play their fifth of six split squad games on Sunday, with half the team going to Disney to play the Braves and the other half traveling to Lakeland to face the Tigers.
The pitchers scheduled to throw in these games are:
ATL: RHP Bud Norris, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Jeff Fulchino, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Fernando Rodriguez, RHP Henry Villar.
DET: LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, RHP Aneury Rodriguez, LHP Wesley Wright, LHP Gustavo Chacin, RHP Enerio Del Rosario, RHP Jose Valdez.
Finally, here are some images from Saturday’s activities at Osceola County Stadium: